„History in Literature: Fact and Fiction“

A Reading and Discussion with Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz

Introduction and Moderation: Prof. Dr. Astrid Böger
July 9, 2009, 19:00, Amerikazentrum
Am Sandtorkai 48 – new address !
20457 Hamburg

Geraldine Brooks
is author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning and internationally bestselling novel March, a retelling of Louisa May Alcott´s classic Little Women from the point of view of Mr. March, the absent father who goes off to war.

Geraldine Brooks
Geraldine Brooks (Copyright: Randi Baird)

Her first novel, Year of Wonders, published in 2001, is also an international bestseller. Set in 1666, Year of Wonders follows a young woman´s battle to save her family and her soul when the plague suddenly strikes the small Derbyshire village of Eyam. Brooks is the author of Foreign Correspondence (1997), a travel and adventure memoir which chronicles a childhood enriched by pen pals from around the world, and her adult quest to find them. Foreign Correspondence won the Nita B. Kibble Award for women´s writing. Her first book of non-fiction, Nine Parts of Desire (1994), was based on her experiences among the Muslim women of the Middle East, and is an international bestseller that has been translated into seventeen languages. Geraldine Brooks got the idea for her new book, People of the Book: A Novel (2008), while covering the Bosnian war as a foreign correspondent. She tells the story of a book – the 500 year old Sarajevo Hagadah, which was saved by its Muslim Kustos during the Yugoslavian war and which is being inspected by Hanna Heath, a 30-year-old Australian book conservator, who has been called in by the United Nations to help preserve it. While these parts read like a thriller, it is the historical chapters which open up the history of the persecution of Jews in medieval Europe up until World War II. It´s the „people of the book“, among them not jut Jews, but also Muslims and Christians, who over five centuries saved it, passed it on, and cherished it, people who „had known unbearable stress: pogrom, Inquisition, exile, genocide, war.“

Tony Horwitz
Tony Horwitz (Copyright: Randi Baird)

Tony Horwitz

is the author of Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (2002), Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (1998), Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia (1991) and One For the Road: An Outback Adventure (1988). He has also been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and a staff writer for the New Yorker. His awards include a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and an Overseas Press Club award for coverage of the first Gulf War. Tony was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where he completed a book about early European explorers of America. In A Voyage Long and Strange (2008) Tony Horowitz uses the research skills of a journalist to follow the path of a historian in order to explore American history that never made it into history books. It is a great US studies resource about the forgotten European explorers who tramped around North America between 1492 and the Pilgrims in 1620. He also manages to talk a lot about the modern-day cities he passes through tracing the steps of the early explorers. He points out that most early US history was written by New Englanders, from their perspective, so the Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese were largely written out, or just touched on as vague wanderers who really didn´t accomplish much. But, in fact, they had walked through and explored the area of over 20 future US states by the time the Pilgrims arrived.